Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
Saint Peter knew that evangelization is hard work with little earthly reward. He knew that our desire to share our faith with others will often be met with open hostility. He knew that expressing and living out our faith in the world can be an open invitation for hatred, violence, and crucifixion. He embraced these difficulties with joy, eventually meeting his end on a cross in Rome only a stone’s throw from the spot where St. Peter’s Basilica stands today. Peter was a living image of Jesus’ love, even unto death. He valued the message of hope in Christ even more than he valued his own earthly life.
Our Lord still invites us to share our faith with joy and gentleness. We need the virtue and grace of courage and fortitude in order to stand up to opposition; we also need the Holy Spirit’s gifts of reverence and gentleness. We want to draw people into Christ, not to scare them away. We are not at war with any earthly power, so we have nothing to lose in approaching people of every race and tongue, people and nation. Any anger or bitterness on our part would sour the message we wish to share. Those who oppose our faith do not have our reason for hope; Christ Jesus is the only one who can offer us eternal life and the fulfilment of every good desire. When we suffer for doing good and for sharing our faith, this gives the world an image of the contrast between Jesus’ message of hope and unity and the world’s offer of power, domination, and division. Our perseverance in virtue under fire only serves to enhance our witness. The stronger the contrast, the greater the witness.
So, rejoice in the good news that we celebrate! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and has saved us from our sins. Christ our life has conquered death. We sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts and joyfully give witness to His resurrection. We bear our share of hardships with good cheer and unwavering hope that our witness is winning souls for Christ.